The tasks of the first three years (to be upright and walk; speech and then thought) are intricately tied into Waldorf Education. We see that the legs are connected with gravity and the surface of the earth, and as the feet move it is often with an inward swing in relation to the joints of the knee and the hip even when we walk in a straight line. The right foot is seen as moving counterclockwise and the left foot moves clockwise as archetypal patterns. You can read more about this in the book “Foundations of the Extra Lesson” by Joep Eikenboom. As our hands become “free”, and no longer needed for locomotion as we stand and walk upright, they become useful as tools, for expression, for work, for caring for another in lifting gestures as we react to sensory impressions. Feet remain in contact with the ground, for the most part, in a stretching movement for walking. Stretching and lifting provide a counterpoint for each other within the development of the body. One is as important as the other; one is the balance for the other.
There are many books containing hand gesture games, fingerplays and other verses and songs involving the hands. Yet, the development of the nimbleness of the feet is an important component of the stretching of the body and the development of the will.
There are many ways to incorporate feet into verses, songs and rhymes. Almost any rhyme typically used for the hands can be used for the feet in some capacity with a little creativity and incorporated into circle time. Stomping, being on tip toes, patting the soles of the feet are all wonderful. Autumn brings to mind horses having horseshoes put on, cobblers mending and tending to shoes, giants stomping, gnomes stomping and walking up and down stairways to the inner earth, all manner of forest and farm animals trodding softly or loudly. Traditional rhymes such as “Shoe a little horse, shoe a little mare” and “Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe” work well for foot plays and combinations of toe and foot wiggling, bearing weight on different sections of the foot, and using the feet across midline.
Older children can work with some of the exercises suggested in the book “The Extra Lesson”. Some of the foot exercises tie into remedial work for children who are restless or children who have trouble sleeping or who suffer from nightmares and challenges with writing. Foot dominance is tied to the dominance needed for writing and for a sense of spatial awareness in general. The nimble foot, the nimble mind!